1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 71
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|When we choose not to live in the Word of God, we have chosen to live by something else. We have bought the doctrine of the church. We have bought the doctrine of the world. And to live this way, but not let anybody know about it, is a very dangerous thing in the body of Christ. It becomes life-threatening to the body. It becomes threatening to the relationship within the body, when people come to church wearing a mask covering what they know to be cancerous, what they know to be something that they are not willing to do that God has told them to do.|
1 Corinthians 11:16
The Silent Killer
In 1 Corinthians we’re seeing some tough things the apostle Paul is about to say to the church of Corinth. In fact, I want to title this study “The Silent Killer.” Before we start looking at the body of Christ and what can be a detriment to that, I want to relate that to the physical body. There’s nothing more serious, more life-threatening, than a disease, a tumor, or something within us that cannot be physically detected. It’s there; it’s doing its damage; it’s eating away; but we don’t feel anything. There’s nothing we can put our finger on that’s wrong on the inside, but there’s a serious life-threatening condition going on. There’s nothing any worse than that, because one day, unannounced, the symptoms of what’s been going on inside will suddenly become apparent on the outside. And when it does, it brings great pain, agony and, many times, death.
When you take that analogy and put it to the body of Christ, it is interesting that it’s the same scenario once again. In other words, you have a believer in the church of Jesus Christ, as were in the church of Corinth, believers who refuse to grow up or believers who understood truth but would not live up under it. By the way, we’ve already been taught that when we sin that is buying into another doctrine. When we choose not to live in the Word of God, we have chosen to live by something else. We have bought the doctrine of the church. We have bought the doctrine of the world. And to live this way, but not let anybody know about it, is a very dangerous thing in the body of Christ. It becomes life-threatening to the body. It becomes threatening to the relationship within the body, when people come to church wearing a mask covering what they know to be cancerous, what they know to be something that they are not willing to do that God has told them to do.
Ephesians 4:3 says, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I want you to know the peace in the body is already there in Christ Jesus. It cannot be produced. The Scripture does not tell us to produce it. The Scripture says to preserve it. And to preserve it you have to preserve it in the bonds of peace. Peace with God, first in your walk with Him, no conflict, no irritant. “God, I’m willing to do whatever You tell me to do. My agenda is laid before You. God, You speak and I will do in the grace You’ve given me.” That’s peace, and you can live in that peace.
But that peace also affects your relationships with others. You can be at peace with them. Paul said in Romans, “If at all possible be at peace with your brother.” It doesn’t say that they will be at peace with you. You be at peace with them. That’s the way we’re to live. A person who chooses to break that relationship with the Father, chooses not to obey Him, chooses to go against what His Word tells him, that person immediately becomes that silent killer in the body of Christ, because it’s directly going to affect his relationships to the people around him.
One of these days—and we don’t know when it’s going to be—in the church setting, in public worship, that whole mind-set will surface itself, which is exactly what it did in the church of Corinth. It will come to the surface. You can go and go and go with this kind of wrong thinking within you, embracing something that’s not truth. But one day it will surface, and it will surface in public worship.
We’re going to see how this silent killer surfaced in the church of Corinth. Paul is very upset with them. This is one of the toughest messages we’ve had since we’ve been walking through Corinthians. He has nothing, absolutely nothing, good to say about them in this passage of Scripture. He’s commended them when he could. He’s even had to strain to do it, but now he has no commendation to them whatsoever.
Look at verse 17. We’ll begin to get in the feel of what’s going on. He says, “But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.” In other words, you’re doing more harm than you’re doing good when you come together.
The word “come together” is sunerchomai. It means to come together. Sun means “together with,” and erchomai means “to come.” It’s the idea of corporate worship when people come from other homes and other places and they come together. He says, “You’re coming together not for the better but for the worse.”
The saddest thing is going on in the church of Corinth. There are people there who have already separated themselves from each other. Look at verse 18. He says, “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it.” In other words, “I’m beginning to believe, from what I have heard from others, that there are divisions among you.” The people were coming to church. Can you imagine? Coming to be together when, literally, they were apart. You’ve got people over here willing to serve the Lord Jesus and living surrendered, but you’ve got others who aren’t, and they’re trying to come together for a time of worship. Is that not an oxymoron, people coming to worship when in fact they’re not even living surrendered to Christ to begin with?
He says, “When you come together, you’re already separated.” We saw this word back in 1:12 when it says, “Some of you are of Paul; some of you are of Apollos; some of you are Cephas.” You’ve attached yourself to men. You’ve already separated yourself, and that’s brought a division among you. And he says, “I’m hearing that when you come together there are divisions among you.”
The setting for his words is clearly laid in verse 18. He says, “that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it.” What had been the symptoms of that division up to now? First of all, we saw it in chapter 3. They knew the Scriptures. They had been taught well. But they were not willing to grow under that which they knew.
You take this in the 20th century. How many people have heard and heard and heard but won’t live up under what they know? That’s the way it was at Corinth. Paul had been their teacher. You can’t get any better. Apollos had been their teacher, recommended by Priscilla and Aquila. You can’t get any better. They’ve had the greatest teaching in the world, but they will not grow up. So, symptomatically you’re seeing an immaturity within the believers already in the book of Corinthians.
In chapter 5 they allow sexual immorality to go on right there in front of them but nobody would confront it. In chapter 6 they were suing each other. Over differences they had, they were dragging each other before the public courts. Again, just a symptom of a deeper problem. In chapter 7 their families were torn apart because of fleshly living. In chapter 8 the people were very knowledgeable, but so arrogant with their knowledge. There was no love in that knowledge, which made them sensitive to their weaker brother. In chapter 11 there were women trying to take over the roles of men in the church. All of these things were in the church of Corinth.
Here they were coming together to “worship.” That’s amazing to me. There are three words for worship in the New Testament. One of the words is latreuo, which is always a response to what God has done for you. It’s never a feeling. It’s not a goose bump you got in a service when something happened that you really were thrilled by. Worship is, first of all, sebomai. It means to live a lifestyle Monday through Saturday that everybody knows you’re under the lordship of Christ. You’re not perfect, but you’re predictable, and people know when you fail what you’re going to do. You live embracing the cross.
Latreuo means to serve, and to serve means that you’re willing to do whatever God tells you whenever He tells you to do it. The key is “Yes, Lord.” It doesn’t matter what He says; no agenda but “Yes, Lord,” whatever it is.
Then thirdly, is the word proskuneo, which means to fall down prostrate, flat, before Him in total utter humility, realizing how awesome He is and how little you are apart from Him. That’s worship.
Here these people are coming together to worship. Worship takes place Monday through Saturday long before it gets into church on Sunday. Already symptoms had developed in them and he says, “You’re coming together as a group that’s divided.” And he says, “I have this against you.” In other words, “I don’t have anything good to say about you when you come to worship this way!”
I know people who get up on Sunday morning and fight with each other the whole time trying to get ready and get the kids ready. Then they come to church. They’re already late when they get there. They don’t intend to listen to anything. They never have. They’ve been sitting there listening to truth all their life. They’ve gone to all that effort. Then when I get up to preach, they sit there and park their brains in neutral and walk out the door at the end and say, “Nice sermon, preacher.”
You know, why come to church, is my question. Why do we go to church? Why do we do what we do? What is the very reason we come together? I wonder how divided we really are. I wonder how many of us, beneath the surface, have never been willing to buy in to the principles of God’s Word and what it has to say. We’ve never been willing to surrender to the sufficiency to Christ, to recognize how wicked our flesh really is and to live totally dependent upon Christ in everything that we do.
I wonder if it’s in the church today—listen carefully—because it was in the church of Corinth. The symptoms had been seen in other areas, but now it surfaced in public worship. It happened to be the Lord’s Supper. When I used to study this, I thought the Lord’s Supper was the issue, it is not. The issue is the divisiveness in the church. The issue is people embracing other doctrines within but not saying anything about it. But all of that surfaces when they come to take the Lord’s Supper.
I wonder if the apostle Paul was writing this in the 20th century if he could shift it out and say, “Let’s put the Lord’s Supper over here. Let’s take the church business meeting.” I wonder how many people come to a church conference the same way they go to take the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11. I wonder if we right here could say, “Listen, in any area of public worship this can fit.” The context is narrowed, however, to the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Remember that. But when something is inward that is not what God says it ought to be, in your masking it by your smile and by the fact you can sing with the best of them, at some point that evil, that flesh, will surface in the body of believers that will distinguish where you are. It will not only distinguish where you are, it will also distinguish where those who are not of that same mine are. You’ll see this in the Scripture.
The inevitability of division within the church
First of all, Paul shows the inevitability of division within the church. In verse 19 he says, “For there must also be factions among you.” When you read “must also,” it’s the little Greek word dei. It can be translated “necessity” or “must need,” because it does mean necessity. However, it’s also translated “inevitable,” something that is inevitable. You don’t need division in the body of Christ, but it is inevitable that you’re going to have it.
Look over in Matthew 18:7. The same word is used, and I think it will show you exactly how he’s using it here. Nobody wants division, and you don’t need division, but it’s inevitable that you’re going to have it. Jesus says, “‘Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!’” You see, that the word can mean the inevitability of something.
Paul is simply stating it is inevitable there are going to be divisions within the church. You’re going to have. It’s not something that is needed, but you’re going to have division in the church.
Now, the word “factions” in verse 19 of our text is different from the word “divisions” in verse 18. There needs to be a distinction here. In verse 18 the word used there for divisions is the word schisma, which is the word that means to rip something apart, to tear something apart. There’s already the idea that these people had separated themselves from one another. Even though they were in the same church, even though they came to the same public worship, they didn’t sit together. They didn’t speak to one another. They had already ripped themselves apart from one another.
But the word used in verse 19 when it says that it’s inevitable that there will be factions in the church is a different word. It’s the word hairesis. We get the word “heresy” from it. Now, you think, “Heresy? What in the world has that got to do with factions in the church?” We think of heresy as somebody coming in here and preaching a doctrine that is so far out nobody would ever buy into it. Yes, that is heresy. But you’re seeing the root of what real heresy is here. Heresy is when a person does not embrace what the church embraces, does not embrace doctrine, does not embrace the Word of God.
What do I mean by embrace? That doesn’t mean understand; I mean willing to bow up under. A person who chooses not to live out what he knows from the Word of God is a person who has hairesis within him. There are heresies within him. That person may or may not be known. In other words, he’s never divided himself from anybody. He continues to have this harboring within, but it will come out at some point. It will come out at a public meeting somewhere like it came out here at Corinth. He hasn’t separated himself.
You see, the difference is this hairesis, this enveloping another doctrine, this embracing the flesh rather than embracing God and His Word, can lead to a schism, can lead to people being separated and torn apart. How many churches are there in our town? Do we need that many churches? Many of them are there because of a schisma. It has been torn apart. Why? Because people within that church never embraced the doctrine that the church was preaching. They never embraced Christ. They never embraced His Word. And when it came down to it, one day it came out and surfaced in public worship. And when it surfaced in public worship, it split the church and they separated from one another. So you’ve got two words here.
Paul is not really talking to the people who have already separated themselves. He’s talking to the people who are harboring attitudes of the flesh, which is nothing more than heresy. It’s the root of it. Heresy gets worse and worse and worse, but it starts right here. When I’m not willing to live up under that which God, through His Holy Spirit, has revealed to me, I am committing an act of heresy. You may not know it, because I may be smiling on the outside. I may be saying all the things you like to hear. But on the inside I’m a wreck, and one day it will come out in a public setting. It will come up. God will make sure it comes out. He’ll expose those kinds of people by their attitudes which are ungodly which spill themselves out in the public setting of worship. That is exactly what’s going on here at Corinth.
In verse 19 he says, “in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.” What a picture! The word “approved” here is dokimos. It’s the same word he uses in 1 Corinthians 9:27 when he says, “I don’t want to be unapproved. I don’t want to be disqualified. I don’t want to sit on the bench.” He’s not talking about losing your salvation. He’s talking about becoming unusable in the body of Christ. How many people who come to church every Sunday are unusable because they’re not willing to surrender to the doctrines that God has taught them? They’re not willing to adhere to the lordship of Jesus Christ. So as a result of that he says, “in order that those who are approved,” present tense, those who are constantly being approved. There are those always within the church, the remnant, who are living consistent with God’s Word. They’re living dead to self. They’re taking the low road. They’re becoming river beds through which God can be the river.
Well, it was illustrated in chapter 10 in a beautiful way. In chapter 10 he mentions Israel. And of the whole nation of Israel, only two were approved. It says God was not happy with many of them, but really that’s an understatement. Out of a million and a half, only two, Joshua and Caleb. But those two stood out in stark contrast to a whole nation that rejected Him. What he’s saying here is, “It’s inevitable you’re going to have division within a church. You’re going to have people who are embracing flesh. You’re going to have people who will never embrace the word of God and will be seen symptomatically in the public settings of worship. But when they are seen, they just simply form a backdrop that God uses to enhance and make everybody recognize those who are faithful. He uses the unfaithful to prove the faithful. It’s inevitable you’re going to have them. But when you do have them, for those of you living faithful lives keep on living faithful because everybody will know you’re faithful by your attitude, by your demeanor, by the way you live.”
When you’re in public settings, it will come out, especially when the church is under pressure, when the church is being tested. Watch out! It comes out in public worship. It’s amazing to me how God can use the carnality of others to display the faithfulness of those who love Him. The inevitability of division in the church.
The evidence of division in the church
Now, the second thing I want you to see is the evidence of division in the church. It’s very evident in the church of Corinth. Verses 20-22 read, “Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.”
Paul quickly shows that when they came to the Lord’s Supper they did not come to worship Christ. That was not their motive. Now, I can hear some of them saying now, “Who are you to tell me my motive?” The apostle Paul says, “I’m Paul. I’m an apostle. I have nothing good to say about you. And I want you to know that when you come to observe the Lord’s Supper, that is not the heartbeat of what you want others to think it is. You’re not coming to worship the Lord Jesus.” He says in verse 20, “Therefore, when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” Well, what is it then? Verse 21 goes on, “for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.”
First of all, you’ve got to understand the culture of the heathen world. Remember, as we’ve studied Corinthians we have discovered that it’s not the church affecting the city, it’s the city affecting the church. That’s the problem. It’s infected it and it’s affected it and they’ve got a lot of problems. In the heathen world when they would have an idolatrous feast and everybody would come together, there was a lot of gluttony, drunkennessand immorality.
We’re talking to a rich church. Over in 2 Corinthians Paul even mentions that. He talks about how rich and wealthy these people are as opposed to the poor churches over in Macedonia. It was only the wealthy who could have the food there to eat. The poor had nothing to eat, as the verse even brings out. So what he’s saying is, evidently the poor were there. The rich despised the poor. Then the rich would bring food that they were going to eat and they ate it all up before the poor got a chance. In other words, those who had the food would bring it to this feast, but the problem was, the rich would take it and eat it. Then the poor were hungry and the rich ended up drunk. Paul says, “You call this observing the Lord’s Supper?”
Apparently, there was a huge problem, and the symptoms of their flesh indulgence came out when they had the Lord’s Supper. They made a mockery out of what was supposed to have been a time of worship. What was appointed to feed the soul was employed to feed their own lust and passions. What should have been a bond that would unify believers ended up being an instrument of discord, the very opposite of what it was intended to be. The poor were deprived the partaking of the sacred supper. The rich turned the feast into a debacle.
Well, their conduct was contemptible to the Lord. Verse 22 reads, “What? Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.” The first thing he tells them is, “Now listen, folks. When you come to the Lord’s Supper, that should be your sole focus and purpose. Eat at your house. You’ve got a house to eat in. Eat there. But when you come to the Lord’s Supper, you come only for the partaking of that which is symbolic and in remembrance of what Jesus has done for you. When you’re coming, you’re making a mockery out of this whole thing.”
Let me make sure I add a point here. There are some people who use this verse and say you should never eat at church. When you have something at church that’s meant to eat, go eat. This is the Lord’s Supper, very focused, very narrow. That’s the context. He’s not even talking about anything like that. The context will not allow for that kind.
What he is saying is you come to partake of the Lord ’s Supper. You come with that totally in your mind. It’s a focus there. He tells them that their behavior shows that they hold the body of believers in contempt.
Look at this in verse 22. Do you realize when a person comes to church symptoms can appear? It doesn’t have to be the Lord ’s Supper we’re talking about. He says, “Or do you despise the church of God.” That’s an interesting word, despise. It’s the Greek word kataphroneo. It means to look down on and hold others in contempt. Do you realize a person who is embracing the doctrines of the flesh and the doctrines of the world, who has somehow disengaged himself from that which Christ has taught him—the coming to the cross and embracing the cross daily, dying to self, living in the sufficiency of who Christ is—a person who’s never bought into that, is in reality communicating a message to the whole body of believers that you people are stupid? They look down on us and think we’re fools because of the way we live. The way they act proves the fact they’re despising the whole body of Christ. That’s interesting.
I was in another city and a man said to me, “You Christians are stupid. You’re poor. You don’t have any money. You don’t have any business sense.” But you know what hits me when I study this? I could receive that from him. Do you know why? Because he was an unbeliever and a pagan, and pagans think like pagans think. But what you cannot receive is when somebody in the body of Christ says the same type of things to you, has the same type of attitude toward you. “Who in the world do you think you are walking by faith?”
I was in a business meeting one time and a man stood up and said, “Listen, what we need is common sense.” I want to tell you one thing. Common sense is when my mind has been renewed by the Word of God and I start thinking like God said. Now that’s common sense. Anything other than that is nothing more than a disgrace. That’s exactly the message that is signaled by people who know but won’t live, people who have a mask over them, people who embrace a heresy, and yet they still come to worship. They are sending a signal that they disdain the whole body of Christ. Kind of good to know what those people think about you, isn’t it? If you’re trying to live a surrendered life, you’re a fool in the eyes of many people who claim to know Christ.
He says, “Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing?” The word “shame” is kataischuno. It’s the word that means to bring to total humiliation. His reference here is to those poor people who were stopped and hindered from partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Did you ever realize when you have something that’s public worship there are those, and usually it’s the poor, who know their need and come and want to worship, but the attitudes of the rich and the attitudes of those who will not embrace the Word of God are the very attitudes that shut down the poor and humiliate and make them want to go over into a corner? The word has the idea of so humiliating them that they’re ashamed and they’re reddened in the face and they’re made to go over and feel as if they’re stupid over in the corner. Is that the attitude you have?
I’ll tell you what. I have never seen sin as bad as it is except in the book of 1 Corinthians. When we got in chapter 10 I had never seen sin as being idolatry. I’d never realized it was that serious. I knew it was serious. But I’d never quite seen it in the picturesque form. What we’re seeing right now is the true attitude of a person not living surrendered to Christ, as they were in Corinthians. They may know the Scriptures. They can quote the Greek and the Hebrew to you. But I want to tell you something. They could care less about you. They have no love or sensitivity to the weaker brother. They’ll take you to court if you ever say anything wrong to them. They’re the kind of people who are not out for anybody but themselves. They’re casting a message out that says, “Even though we attend this church, we cast disgrace and disdain on anybody who walks by faith. That’s a simplistic way of living.” And not only that, by their very attitude they suppress the poor who really come to meet with God.
Wow! Paul has nothing good to say about them at all. He said, “What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.” I’ll tell you what. You’ve got to hand it to him. For all these chapters he’s done his best to commend them. He’s done his best to encourage them. But right now he has no encouragement and no commendation in his mind. He is taking them down, opening up the sore and showing them what the problem really is. A person can be a heretic who knows the truth and will not live up under it. He knows it, but he’s embraced another doctrine. That’s where the roots of all heresy comes from.
The inevitability of it is going to be there. There are going to be those who have hairesis, and it may lead to schisma, the actual separation. There’s also the evidence of it. It sure was in the church of Corinth in the attitudes of the people toward the Lord’s Supper.
The cure for division in the church
The third thing is the cure for division in the church. Ironically, the Lord’s Supper was to celebrate what Christ had unselfishly done for them so that they could live free from the bondage to the very flesh that was dominating them. So why in the world would they ever want to worship the Lord in the Lord’s Supper the way they were doing? They were living as if they didn’t even know Him. Some may not have, because in 2 Corinthians he said, “I think your problem is you need to examine yourself to see whether or not you’re even in the faith.”
In verse 23 look what he says. He begins to rehearse now what he had already taught them. It’s not new. This is very similar to the book of Hebrews when he says, “You ought to be teachers. I’ve got to go back and teach you the ABC’s because you have become dull of hearing.” That’s exactly what had happened here at the church of Corinth. They knew better, but they weren’t living under what they knew. Verse 23 says, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread.” He starts off and says, “For I received from the Lord.” We know that he had this teaching clear, every “i” dotted, every “t” crossed. Did God reveal it to him in a special revelation? He could have, because He taught him the message of grace while he was out in the desert and brought him back so he could help Peter and the other apostles.
But it may not have been by direct revelation. It could have been by indirect revelation through one of the other apostles. He was not there at the Last Supper. What he tells us is exactly what’s recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He does not miss a single thing. “For I received from the Lord,” then he goes on and says, “that which I also delivered to you.” That is aorist active. Paul had taught them, but now they have to be taught again.
He’s going to mention the two elements of the Lord’s Supper, but I want you to see something in verse 23. Context. What’s the context? The people of Corinth were even betraying the Lord Jesus Christ by the fact that they were coming and making a mockery out of the Lord’s Supper. They were disdaining the whole body of Christ. Look at the phrase here. Verse 23, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus [now watch this] in the night in which He was [what?] betrayed, took bread.”
When I first read that, I thought that’s a good statement. He could have said the same thing and never mentioned the fact that that was the night in which He was betrayed. Do you realize this is in the midst of a church betraying the Lord Jesus by their walk? They’re embracing flesh rather than embracing Christ. Do you realize who He was betrayed by? A man by the name of Judas, who for years of walking with Jesus harbored within his heart a hairesis, a false doctrine. He had embraced his own opinionated flesh and had his own agenda, but never yet had it come out to where he had separated himself. On the night in the garden, after he had taken this supper with these disciples he went to the garden. It was in the garden that Judas came and finally the hairesis became schisma. He separated himself from Him. For thirty pieces of silver he sold the Lord Jesus Christ into the hands of the Sanhedrin.
That hit me. There’s no coincidence here. Boy, you talk about the inerrant infallible, inspired Word of God. God had Paul put that phrase there, “in the night in which He was betrayed.” He was right in the midst of his own disciples that very night that he took the bread and that he took the cup.
Well, he mentions the bread and the cup and explains them. He says in verse 24, “and when He had given thanks, He broke it [speaking of the bread], and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’” Now, there are some people, particularly in some religions, who say because of this verse, when you partake of the bread, you literally partake of the very body of Jesus Christ. It’s called the doctrine of transubstantiation. I don’t get into that. But it’s taught. It can’t be true. I’m going to show you right here why it can’t be. It didn’t become His body when He took the supper. Why would it become His body now when we partake of the supper? He hadn’t even died yet. It was strictly symbolic of what He was about to do on the cross. Of course, that body was just not human flesh. It was divinely, human flesh, as we’ve studied many times; tempted as we are, but yet without sin. The word “tempted” means He was put to the test constantly by Satan to see if there was anything in Him that would respond. But the Gospel of John says that there was nothing in Him that Satan could draw out of Him. So He had a divine human body. He was the God-man.
But not only that, He shed divinely human blood. It’s very important as you walk through this. The body is significant. It says in Hebrews, “A body thou has given Me that I may do Thy will, oh God.” The Moonies said Jesus was the second Adam. The first Adam was Adam of course, and then he sinned. The second Adam was Jesus, but He messed up. He didn’t get to marry before they killed Him on the cross. He didn’t come to die. He came to fester and to found a new race. But they said Moon is the third one, and, of course, he’s going to be the right one. That’s what they say.
But when you stop and say, “Wait a minute. What about Hebrews when it says, “A body Thou has given Me to do Thy will, oh God”? It says earlier in Hebrews He went to the cross with joy knowing He was pleasing the Father. He came to die. When we partake of the body, partake of the bread, we are remembering that a human body hung on the cross as our representative. We were in Adam, but now Christ has come and represents every one of us. When He died, when we put our faith into Jesus Christ, immediately every benefit of His death becomes ours, and it is reckoned unto us. It’s nothing we ever deserve, nothing we ever earn. We’re taken out of Adam and put into Christ, and He now is in Heaven.
It’s amazing. God gave Him a body and now it’s glorified and it’s in Heaven. Every time the Father looks at the Son, He’s reminded of us. But I’ll tell you what. It’s another thing that He put His Spirit within us so that when we live surrendered lives, not like the lives of the Corinthians, then people can look at us and think of Him. It’s amazing how that works. But the bread represents the body, and it’s clear why He says to do it.
He says in verse 24, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” That’s what it’s for. It’s for the person who’s had to go out and deal with sin all week long. He has been tempted. Then he comes in to take the Lord’s Supper, thanking God afresh that God did what He did for us. And now He’s put the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus within us because of that death on the cross, because of that body on which became all of our sins. He took our sin upon Himself. It’s to remember that.
Can you imagine preaching that to a group of people who would rather live and indulge their flesh rather than understand that Christ wants to live in them to overcome their flesh?
Then he goes on in verse 25: “In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying [I love this], ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’”
We’ve got to stop here and make sure we understand it. There are two words for covenant in the New Testament. There’s suntheke, which is not the word used here. Suntheke is when two people in total agreement enter into a covenant together as equals, both of them. If you men have been hearing the teaching of the first part of chapter 11 about your wives submitting to you and you think that you’re better than your wife, then you just need to go somewhere and have your brain washed out and start all over again, because you’re equal with your wife. Suntheke is the covenant that two equals are entering into a covenant together, which means your wife, even though she functionally submits and lets you be the spiritual leader—which is a title you earn, not demand—but as she submits to you, she also has a right to question some of the things you do. There are times that you reason together. You’re equals, suntheke.
But when you come to the word diatheke, the word used here, that’s a different word altogether. This is the word that should be translated a will or testament. I think King James picks up on it and calls it testament. This means that somebody has to die in order for that will to be affected. That’s the real point that comes out in the book of Hebrews. I want to show you something about that in a minute. Look over in Hebrews 9:16, just to make sure we understand what I’m saying here.
My mother, when she died, left a will, but that will was not effective until she died. When my daddy died, he left a will. That will was not effective until he died. The covenant that we’re in with God through His Son Jesus Christ came as a result of the work that Christ did for us on the cross, the giving of His body and the shedding of His blood. In verse 16 it says, “For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it, for a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore, even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood.”
That’s the point there of Hebrews 9. However, it’s simply an example to show that the blood was significant. You see, some people say that the blood is only symbolic of His death. No, it is not. The body of Jesus dying satisfied the love of God, but the shedding of His blood satisfied the justice of God. Life is in the blood. You’ve got to have both. He could have died of a heart attack, folks, but He shed His blood, which was pictured in the Old Testament when all those lambs were brought forward and ruthlessly slain to show you the horribleness of our sin and the cost and the price of that. So when Hebrews comes out, it says He had to shed His blood, and goes on to say without the shedding of blood there would be no remission of sins.
However, there’s something I’ve got to explain to you. In a diatheke it involves or implies a relationship with the one who gives you something. In other words, it was my mother who died and because of a mutual, perhaps you could say deserving, because I’m her son, I am left with what she left me. My father died and it was the same way.
But you must depart from the understanding to understand what it is when He shed His blood. We had no relationship with Him. No man seeketh after God. No not one. There’s no righteous man. There was a gap between man and God, and when Jesus died on the cross, there was not a relationship with man except by the grace of God. There was not a relationship. There never can be a time that we can say we deserve anything when Jesus shed His blood for us. That shows you the nature and the character of God, that Jesus a God-man departed Heaven, emptied Himself of His glory, came down to this earth, became submissive to His Father out of an act of choice even though He was equal to Him, and was obedient even unto death. He did that with not a one of us deserving it and not a one of us even asking for it. As a matter of fact, we weren’t even seeking for Him. He came looking for us. There was not a relationship.
So when you think of diatheke, yes, blood had to be shed and a life had to be given, but don’t think of it in the same terms that you would think of a will. In our families when somebody dies we, because of relationship and deserving, receive the inheritance that they have. We do not deserve anything. It’s all only by the grace of God.
Go back to our text here. Verse 25 reads, “In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” Then in verse 26 it says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” In other words, what he’s saying to the church at Corinth is, it’s a serious thing when it comes to an act of public worship and, particularly, the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. All this garbage that people harbor within themselves, for whatever reason, all the unwillingness to surrender to what they know, can be masked and hidden. It can be divisive and yet you may not even be aware of it.
But it will surface and it will surface in some act of public worship. When it does, God will stand that person over here and everybody in the place will look at him and go, “Oh, God, help this man!” But in contrast to this person who acts so unbecomingly because the poison has now come out, God will also reveal the faithful who live godly before Him. He’ll use the ungodly to reveal the godly. It’s amazing.
The ground is level at the cross, isn’t it? I can’t point a finger at anybody. It’s helped me more and more to realize when I choose to embrace my flesh, I have just committed an act of idolatry. I sent a signal that I disdain not only Christ, but the whole body. We’ve all done that. That’s an act of sin. He’s talking here about people who live habitually that way. All of us know what it’s like because we’ve fallen in that trap. Hopefully you’ve come running to the cross and know exactly how to get out from under that and back as a vessel, a river bed, so that Christ can flow through you.
You know, don’t buy it when somebody has a smile on his face. Don’t buy it because they sing and say all the right words. Watch the way they treat others in the body of Christ. You may be looking at a person who’s harboring hairesis but you didn’t know it. But one day it will become schisma. They will rip and tear themselves away. Preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.